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Live Music Census

World’s first national live music census to take pulse of UK scene

Published on: 11 January 2017

A volunteer army of music lovers is being recruited to take part in the UK’s first ever live music census.

World first

For one night in March, organisers aim to track performances in cities across the country – from lone buskers to massed choirs, from pub gigs to stadium concerts.

They hope the survey – a world first – will help measure live music’s cultural and economic value, discover what challenges the industry is facing, and inform policy to help it flourish.

There will be coordinated censuses in Newcastle, Glasgow, Oxford, Leeds and Birmingham.

The UK Live Music Census – conducted by the universities of Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow, in affiliation with Birmingham City – will run for 24 hours from noon on Thursday 9 March.

Volunteers will be asked to record aspects of the gig including the musical genre, the venue, door charge and audience demographic.

A crowd at a concert
A music concert

Richness and variety

Dr Adam Behr, Lecturer in Contemporary and Popular Music at Newcastle University is part of the project team. “This is a great opportunity to participate in a project that’s really breaking new ground – a detailed account of live music activity across multiple cities,” he said.

“It will provide a rich picture of individual cities like Newcastle that could really help to make a difference by representing the richness and variety of what’s happening, and informing policy locally and nationally.”

Lead organiser Dr Matt Brennan from the University of Edinburgh said: “This is like a Springwatch for live music. We want people to let us know everything about the music they see on this one day.

“Live music in the UK – from the Beatles and the Sex Pistols to West End musicals and Glastonbury – has transformed our culture, yet it is constantly under pressure. This census will help give us an accurate snapshot of the scene’s health.”

Online survey

A nationwide online survey for musicians, venues, promoters and audiences will also go live on 9 March and will be open until 8 May.

It will gather information about why people attend gigs, which venues are considered important, how much people spend and how far they will travel.

The census is led by academics from the University of Edinburgh’s Reid School of Music – part of Edinburgh College of Art – in collaboration with Newcastle University’s International Centre for Music Studies and the University of Glasgow’s School of Culture and Creative Arts. The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Two years ago the project team ran a pilot live music census in Edinburgh. Its findings were used to inform the city council’s decision to change its policies about noise levels to the benefit of performers.

People can sign up to take part and to be kept informed at the official website

Notes to editors

Newcastle University has just unveiled the latest programme for its series of music concerts Live in the Kings Hall. The new season begins at 1.10pm on 2 February with Stephanie Marshall and Somi Kim performing pieces by Schumann, Schubert and Richard Strauss. 


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